The FBI recently announced it had figured out how to crack into the security of the San Bernardino terrorist’s iPhone, and now Apple desperately wants to find out how the feds did it.
The Department of Justice officially withdrew its case against Apple, saying it no longer needed help from Apple, as it had secured assistance from an unnamed third-party, The Los Angeles Times reports.
But now, Apple is panicking at the prospect its iPhone 5c can easily be breached by outside parties at seemingly the drop of a hat. The FBI is totally uninterested in responding to Apple’s pleas, especially given the fact that Apple CEO Tim Cook said he would fight the DOJ every step of the way in court. That sort of no holds barred opposition from Apple has not engendered much support in the federal government.
“One way or another, Apple needs to figure out the details,” Justin Olsson, product counsel at AVG Technologies, told The Los Angeles Times. “The responsible thing for the government to do is privately disclose the vulnerability to Apple so they can continue hardening security on their devices.”
Apple’s attorneys are trying to figure out if there’s a way to compel the federal government to hand over the information, though that case seems awfully thin.
The third-party approached the FBI with the ability to guess the iPhone’s passcode more than 10 times and at high-speed. All other details remain shadowy. It’s also unclear what the feds obtained off the phone, if anything.
“Apple’s best chance is to make a compelling case that the disclosure of this exploit is in the interest of national security, as in, if it remains undisclosed and undiscovered, it potentially puts innocent users at risk of data breach,” Olsson added.
It’s unclear if the third-party can simply hack just the 5c or other later versions, as well. The 5c has a known vulnerability by which hackers can upload new firmware to the device via USB when in DFU mode and disable passcode delay features. Later models of the iPhone include protection called Secure Enclave, which essentially functions as an operating system within an operating system, and even a customized version of the iPhone’s iOS cannot break that kind of protection. In other words, it’s impossible to get a read on private keys stored on Secure Enclave.
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